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The Revolution That's Not Being Televised

Hundreds gathered in Dallas to reject the Bush Lie Bury, and three went to jail.  I flew from Dallas to Syracuse, where hundreds protested Obama's drone-murder program, and 32 went to jail and are still there (and will stay until trial unless bail can be raised) -- some of them risk major jail time because they violated a protective order that the commander of a U.S. military base gained to protect himself from nonviolent peace activists.  Another drone protester in Missouri, Brian Terrell, is just finishing a six-month sentence.  Climate activist Tim DeChristopher just got out.  The people locked in Guantanamo are refusing to eat, and groups around the world are making plans to fast with them.  The people of Vieques are rallying on May 1st to demand that the U.S. military truly depart their island.  Big plans are being made to rally for Bradley Manning on June 1st.  This week I'm heading to the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's meeting in North Carolina, after which -- just over in Tennessee -- three courageous activists go on trial, facing major time in prison, for having entered and protested a nuclear weapons facility.

The revolution will not be televised.

Oak Ridge, Tenn., was created during World War II as a secret city (actually two, it was segregated by race) for producing nuclear weapons.  Nuclear weapons have a history that marches hand-in-hand with U.S. human experimentation programs.  I just had a chance to read Susan Griffin's A Chorus of Stones, and she recounts a nuclear test in 1957, when the U.S. government was still marching Marines to various distances from nuclear explosions in Nevada to find out what would become of them.  Marines with their eyes closed saw the bones in their hands.  They died of leukemia years later, but not before speaking about what else they saw: 10 or 12 people in a stockade formed by chain link fence and barbed wire, their faces and hands deformed, their hair falling out, their skin peeling off. Or this: men on the ground in agony, the smell of burning flesh, blood running from mouth, ears, and nose, a man trying to tear away wires that had been attached to his head. 

In the late 1960s, Oak Ridge Associated Universities did radiation experiments on cancer patients, children of military personnel.  NASA provided the funding, wanting to know how much radiation would produce nausea, in preparation for sending astronauts to the moon.  And, boy, having sent astronauts to the moon has sure allowed us to take care of poverty and illness and environmental destruction.  I don't know how we'd survive at all if we hadn't killed those children to send astronauts to the moon.

On July 28, 2012, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice (82), and Greg Boertje-Obed (57) entered the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge undetected.  You can't walk down the street without being filmed, but these three senior citizens were able to walk at night right up to a nuclear weapons facility.  They hung up banners that read "Transform Now Plowshares" and "Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks–Isaiah."  They strung up red crime tape.  They hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF), splashed human blood and left four spray-painted tags on the recent construction which read: "Woe to the empire of blood," "The fruit of justice is peace," "Work for peace not for war," and "Plowshares please Isaiah."  When finally confronted by guards, they offered the guards bread and roses.  They sang while forced to kneel for a long period of time.

"We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war," the activists said in a statement.  "Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based upon war-making and empire-building."

Vigils and other events are planned in Knoxville as the trial begins.

While the revolution is not televised, there is a calendar of events: http://warisacrime.org/content/upcoming-events

Video of Sunday's Drone Protest at Hancock

The thirty one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 - $3500, totalling $34,000. Some of the defendants were released with appearance tickets   Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th. Donations may be sent to the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council,note : Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund.  2013 E. Genessee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

Activists Press Hancock Air Base to Obey International Law

UPDATE: The thirty one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 - $3500, totalling $34,000. Some of the defendants were released with appearance tickets   Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th. Donations may be sent to the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council,note : Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund.  2013 E. Genessee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

275 People at Protest; 31 Arrested

Jail Sentences at Drone Base . . . for the protesters

DeWitt (NY) town court Judge Robert Jokl sentenced five Hancock drone resisters April 24 for peacefully blocking the main entrance of Hancock air field last October 5. Jim Clume, Brian Hynes, Ed Kinane and Mark Scibilia-Carver all were sentenced to fifteen days in jail and $125 Court surcharge. Julienne Oldfield was sentenced to 50 hours of community service, the $125 surcharge and given a one year conditional discharge.

Judge Jokl found the five guilty of “trespass” in an April 18 bench trial. The five were among ten who had attempted to deliver a citizens’ indictment
to the Hancock base commander and personnel for ongoing war crimes being perpetrated with weaponized hunter/killer Reaper drones over Afghanistan.

Noting that the October 5 defendants weren’t disobeying the law, but rather seeking to enforce international law, defendant Jim Clune told Judge Jokl, “We have no need to work at cross purposes here. Law is a wonderful instrument when it safeguards and promotes life, and it should be used for that purpose.”
The October 5 action is one of a half dozen such initiatives at Hancock by Upstate Drone Action
, a grassroots group opposing Reaper war crimes.

Those sentenced tonight: Jim Clune of Binghamton, Brian Hynes of the Bronx, Ed Kinane of Syracuse, Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse, Mark Scibilia-Carver of Trumansburg.

A Time to Turn Away from Violence

By Sally McMillan

As we work through our shock and grief over the bombings at the Boston Marathon, as we express our admiration for the courageous response of the people of Boston to this tragedy, as we watch the ongoing tv broadcasts about the manhunt, as we praise the work of police, FBI, firefighters, and other first responders to these events, let’s also take a little time to reflect on the “why” as well as on the “who” and the “who else” of what happened.

This is an important question.  President Obama  raised it when he said, “ Why would two young men who were raised in the United States and went to school here do this kind of thing?”  We could also ask, “What have they not been learning here in the United States that would have deterred  them from committing this action?”  

Drones, Sanctions and the Prison Industrial Complex

By Brian Terrell

In the final weeks of a six month prison sentence for protesting remote control murder by drones, specifically from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, I can only reflect on my time of captivity in light of the crimes that brought me here.  In these ominous times, it is America’s officials and judges and not the anarchists who exhibit the most flagrant contempt for the rule of law and it is due to the malfeasance of these that I owe the distinction of this sabbatical.

As I share in the perspectives gained from residing in the federal prison camp in Yankton, South Dakota, it is important to disclose that as a political prisoner sent up on trumped misdemeanor charges for a few months, my situation is not the same as my fellow inmates!  All nonviolent “offenders”, most by far are prisoners of the war on drugs and most are serving sentences of many years.  I also try to avoid the temptation to exaggerate the hardships and privations I’ve suffered here.  Certainly, doing time in a minimum security camp is easier time than in most other kinds of jails.  If basic necessities are barely met, they are met.  I am in good company and time is passing with little drama and without fear.  For me, these months have been more a test of patience than of courage.

Still, this is a hard place to be in many ways and it would be wrong to minimize what people suffer here.  Among these are the basic humiliation of being numbered and then counted at intervals through the day, frequent shakedowns, random frisks (stranger’s fingers fumbling with a lacerated heart, Solzhenitsyn remembered) and strip searches, separation from family and friends, severely limited visits, intercepted mail and interrupted phone calls, incessant noise and overcrowding, petty rules arbitrarily enforced. 

The regime here is one of omnipresent and unrelieved bureaucracy.  What I am experiencing over a few months as inconvenience and minor irritation, cumulative over years can amount to a crushing and ruinous burden.

“A concentration camp is the complete obliteration of privacy,” wrote Czech novelist Milan Kundera.  It is “a world in which people live crammed together constantly, night and day.  Brutality and violence are secondary, and not the least indispensible characteristics.”

At Yankton and in camps and prisons like it, the federal government has achieved the complete obliteration of privacy as the drug war has increased America’s already bloated prison population sevenfold over the last twenty years.  No country locks up more of its citizens for so long sentences as the United States and it can be said, too, that the government is taking strides to extend the obliteration of privacy to the general population.

What the government has not been able to accomplish by locking up suspected drug users and dealers by the thousands is any reduction in addiction or in the sale and use of illegal drugs.  There is little doubt that jailing drug related “criminals” causes more and not less drug use and crime and yet the so-called criminal justice system is expending an increasingly greater fortune in human and material resources on prisons, contrary to the ends of public safety or rehabilitation.

Before he retired, President Eisenhower warned of the emergence of a self-perpetuating “military industrial complex” producing weapons and provoking conflict for the sake of ensuring a market for more weapons.  Likewise, America is increasingly in the grip of what some call a “prison industrial complex,” building and filling prisons for the purpose of ensuring fodder for more prisons.

The United States government does not run its foreign policy on any more enlightened or humane premise than it does its prisons.

The refrain “we are creating enemies faster than we are killing (or capturing) them” is a bit of truth that gets leaked to the media occasionally in recent years.  Sometimes the sentiment is voiced by even the most senior military commanders and applied variously to any of several strategies, including night raids in Afghanistan, check points in Iraq, the prison at Guantánamo, and drone attacks in Yemen and Pakistan.

As with prisons, United States military and diplomatic policies run contrary to their stated objectives of peace and public safety and yet they persist with little question.  Prisons and the military, America’s dominant institutions, exist not to bring healing to domestic ills or relief for foreign threats but to exacerbate and manipulate them for the profit of the wealthiest few, at great cost and peril for the rest of us.

One of many discouraging moments of the presidential campaign that ended just before I surrendered to authorities here in November, was in a debate where Mr. Obama stated that Americans need to “decide for themselves” whose sanctions against Iran would be “more crippling,” his or Mr. Romney’s.  This was an obscene and unacceptable choice.

Sanctions are portrayed as a diplomatic alternative to war but in their application can be as lethal, warfare by another name.  Sanctions that extend beyond trade in armaments to include embargoes on food, medicine, educational materials, and other necessities of life can constitute weapons of mass destruction in themselves.

It is often said that such comprehensive and indiscriminant sanctions make prisons of the countries targeted with them.  While the regime of sanctions against inmates here at Yankton is less severe than the brutal conditions I witnessed in Iraq in 1998 or that the United States imposes on the people of Iran or Gaza (by proxy), the comparison is apt.  Sanctions and prisons are both about imposing economic and social isolation and both can raise levels of tension and fear when applied without conscience.

Meaningful employment, decent housing, support of loved ones, education and self-respect would be helpful responses to the scourge of addiction and the crimes that ensue from it.  Providing these for people at risk would be a priority for a responsible society but all these are robbed from inmates in federal prisons.  Threats of war and terrorism are provoked by sanctions and invasions and can be countered only by addressing root causes.

“What father,” Jesus asked, “would give a stone to a child who asks for bread?”  We know the answer and it is to our shame.

“The choice is no longer between violence and non-violence,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As resources dwindle, the climate warms and nuclear arms proliferate, even more clearly now than in King’s time, “the choice is between non-violence and non-existence.”

The quality of life and the very existence of all of us depends on the security and well being of each person, especially of those we label criminal or enemy.  The admonition from the Hebrew book of Proverbs to give food to our enemies when they are hungry and drink to them when they are thirsty, echoed in the Sermon on the Mount and the universal Golden Rule to treat others as we would be treated is no romantic, unobtainable dream.  “Love is the only solution” to the human predicament, said Dorothy Day.  Love in our time has become a hard, pragmatic, gritty requisite for survival.

Brian Terrell, a Catholic Worker and Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence will be released from prison on May 24, 2013.  After that he can be reached at brian@vcnv.org.

Arrests at Federal Courthouse in NYC as Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Widens

New York City, April 22: Responding to reports that 84 men — more than half of those imprisoned at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay — are hunger striking to protest their indefinite detention, 12 concerned citizens with Witness Against Torture were arrested at approximately 3pm in a “die-in” on the steps of the Federal Courthouse at Manhattan’s Foley Square (40 Centre Street). 
 
Those arrested, some in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, held signs with names of the men who have already died under US custody at the prison. Fearing that more prisoners could die soon, the protesters are demanding that immediate measures be taken by the Obama administration to close the prison.
 
The hunger strike, begun on February 6, has reached dire proportions. Following a raid by guards of one of the prison sections (“Camp 6”) on April 13, inmates were newly thrown into solitary confinement and examined by medical staff. As a result, the number of those acknowledged as hunger striking by the US military has sharply climbed. Sixteen of the men are
being force fed — a painful practice condemned by human rights organizations and described in testimony from Samir Mukbei published in the New York Times on April 14. More than half of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, including some of the hunger strikers, have been “cleared for
release” by US authorities.
 
“The hunger strike,” says Jeremy Varon, an organizer with Witness Against Torture, “is the predictable result of a failed policy of indefinite detention that is morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable. If action is not taken to change that policy, more prisoners will die and our nation’s shame will deepen.”
 
“I took part in the protest at the Federal Court,” says North Carolina resident Beth Brockman, “because justice is broken when men who our government has no plans to charge or put on trial no harm are held for years.”
 
“Shaker Aamer, the sole UK citizen still at Guantanamo,” added protestor Brian Hynes, “recently pleaded, ‘I hope I do not die in this awful place. I want to hug my children.’ These words, from a man cleared for release 6 years ago, haunt me. The United States is slowly killing men in a prison that should never have existed. This nightmare must end.”
 
Since the hunger strike began, Witness Against Torture has been holding vigils and rallies throughout the country, calling the White House and US military, and sending letters to the detained men. Following a 7 day fast in late March, it has organized a “rolling fast” that will continue as long as the hunger strike does, in which more than 100 people nationwide have participated.
 

##

http://witnesstorture.org/blog/2013/04/22/12-arrested-in-die-in-at-nyc-federal-courthouse/

Drone Prosecution Results in Convictions . . . of Protesters

On April 18, in Dewitt (NY) Town Court, Judge Robert Jokl  found five Reaper Drone resisters guilty of trespass at Hancock Air Base. The five were among ten who last October 5 peacefully blocked the main entrance of the base as they attempted to deliver a citizens’ indictment [ http://upstatedroneaction.org/flyers/support/WAR_CRIMES_INDICTMENT_2-5-13.pdf

to the base commander and personnel  for ongoing war crimes being perpetrated with weaponized Reaper drones over Afghanistan.

The five – who had defended themselves without attorney representation – must return to court at 6 pm, Wednesday, April 24 for sentencing. Noting that the defendants on October 5 weren’t disobeying the law, but rather seeking to enforce international law, defendant Jim Clune told Judge Jokl, “We have no need to work at cross purposes here. Law is a wonderful instrument when it safeguards and promotes life, and it should be used for that purpose.”

A sixth defendant, Martha Hennessey, a New York City Catholic Worker, was found not guilty in absentia.

The October 5 action is one of a half dozen such initiatives at Hancock by Upstate Drone Action [
www.upstatedroneaction. org], a grassroots group opposing Reaper war crimes.

Those standing trial were
~ Jim Clune of Binghamton….Brian Hynes of the Bronx….Ed Kinane of Syracuse….Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse….Mark Scibilia-Carver of Trumansburg

Getting involved versus Calls For Vengeance Citizen First-Responders: Models For Responsible Democracy

 

By John Grant


I write a lot of critical things about militarism, our unnecessary wars and our growing surveillance/police state. So it was heartwarming to watch the videos and listen to the stories from the Boston Marathon bombing about civilian “first-responders” who chose not to flee but to wade into a very messy situation.

Vieques Vive La Lucha Continua 10 years after the bombing stopped

By Helen Jaccard and David Swanson, http://warisacrime.org/vieques

Ten years ago May 1, the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico and their supporters from around the world defeated the most powerful military machine ever, through mass civil disobedience and without firing a single shot.   On May 1, 2003 the bombing stopped and the bases were officially closed.  People from all over the world supported the struggle on Vieques, and the activists and residents have an incredible victory to celebrate.

There were decades of resistance, civil disobedience and arrests.  But those hoping and laying the groundwork for greater resistance were given an opportunity on April 19, 1999, when a U.S. Marines pilot missed his target and killed civilian security guard David Sanes Rodriguez.  That spark lit a fire of nonviolent resistance that brought together Viequenses, Puerto Ricans, and supporters from the United States and around the world.  A campaign of non-violent civil resistance that began in 1999 lasted four years, including a year-long occupation of the bombing range, and saw over 1,500 people arrested.  The Navy was forced to close the bombing range on May 1, 2003.  Peace loving people had won most of the first of their demands for the island: demilitarization.

A huge commemoration is planned in Vieques for the anniversary from May 1 – 4, 2013.

Beautiful Vieques island is only 21 miles across and 5 miles wide, and 7 miles from the main island of Puerto Rico.  It is home to about 9,300 people, as well as endangered turtle species, rare Caribbean plants and animals, bio-luminescent bays, and miles of what look like unspoiled beaches.

But crabs with three claws, grossly deformed fish laden with heavy metals, once-beautiful coral reefs, and beaches and seas that have been decimated by military activity tell a story of environmental disaster with huge health impacts on people, plants, and animals.

An incredible three-quarters of the island was appropriated in the 1940s and used by the U.S. Navy for bombing practice, war games, and dumping or burning old munitions.  This was a terrible attack on an island municipality, one the United States was not at war with. 

Now, Vieques Island, a paradise in trouble, is one of the largest superfund sites in the United States, together with its little sister island of Culebra, which took the brunt of the bombing until 1973, when the Culebra bombing range closed (also due to protests) and the bombing practice was transferred to Vieques.

In 2003, the Navy did not return the land to the people, but transferred its Vieques land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates beaches that were never used for military activities. 

Viequenses fear that keeping the U.S. Government in control of their lands could result in future re-militarization of the island.  Residents aren't happy that their land has not been returned to them and that they are fined for staying on their land past sunset or collecting crabs -- a mainstay of their historic diet.  There are also two military occupations of lands -- a ROTHR radar system and a communications area, and the people want these closed as well.  You can add your name to Viequenses' demand for peace here.

For over 2,000 years people known as Taino inhabited Vieques, which they called Bieque.  The Taino found and left behind them a paradise of fertile soil, fresh water, and trees.  In 1493, the conquistadors arrived.  In 1524, the Spanish killed every remaining resident.  Vieques was then left uninhabited by humanity for 300 years, interrupted by a few British, French, and Spanish attempts to set up forts or destroy each other's efforts.

From 1823 into the 1900s, Vieques was used by the Spanish and French to grow sugar.  English-speaking people of African origin, from nearby islands, were kept in slavery or the nearest thing to it, and forced to grow the sugar cane.  They revolted in 1864 and 1874, and in the 1915 Sugar Strike.  The United States took Puerto Rico from the Spanish in 1898 and made residents U.S. citizens in 1917.  The depression of the 1930s, together with two hurricanes in 1932, brought on harder times than ever.

In 1939 the United States bought 26,000 of the 30,000 acres of land on Vieques from big sugar plantation owners.  Living on that land were 10,000 to 12,000 workers who also raised crops to feed themselves.  The U.S. Navy gave families $30 and one day's notice before bulldozing houses.  Most people were left without means of subsistence, but many stubbornly refused to leave the island.

Carlos Prieta Ventura, a 51-year-old Viequense fisherman, says his father was 8-years-old in 1941 when the Navy told his family their house would be bulldozed whether or not they accepted the $30.  Ventura says he has always resisted the Navy's efforts to force people off the island.

From 1941 to 2003, the U.S. military flew planes from aircraft carriers based on the main island of Puerto Rico dropping bombs over Vieques.  Bombs "rained down," and you could feel the ground shake within the base, as one U.S. veteran told CNN.  Bombs fell at all hours, all day, all week, all year, amounting to approximately a trillion tons of ordnance, much of which (some 100,000 items) lies unexploded on land and in the sea.  Vieques was systematically poisoned by heavy metals, napalm, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and who knows what all else that the Navy has not announced publicly -- having falsely denied using depleted uranium before finally admitting to it, and having dumped barrels of unknown toxic substances into the clear blue Caribbean.

The arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminum in the bombs are also found in hair samples of 80% of the people living on Vieques, who suffer at far higher rates than on the main island (and possibly anywhere else on earth) from cancer (30% higher than Puerto Rico), cirrhosis of the liver, kidney failure, hypertension (381%), diabetes (41%), birth defects, stillbirths, and miscarriages.

The impact of the U.S. occupation that began in 1941 was felt far more swiftly than cancer.  According to Ventura, some 15,000 troops were routinely set loose on Vieques looking for booze and women.  Women were dragged out of their homes and gang raped.  A boy was killed by gang rape.  Ventura says people had only a machete and a hole in the wall by the door where they could try to stab the Marines who would come to take women.  A dozen people were killed over the years directly by the U.S. weapons testing.  And the Navy banned fishermen from various areas, advising them to try food stamps instead.  Fishermen attempted civil resistance actions, and many were arrested during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.

Lydia Ortiz, a Viequense who grew up in the small town of Esperanza, recalls the bombing:  "A lot of houses had their roofs falling in and everything as a result of the vibrations from the bombs for many years.  It was pretty nerve wracking because you never knew what was going to crash down in your house.  We lived quite close to where the bombing was happening.  When I was a child they were dropping bombs near me.  In the school, you could hear the bombing.  You couldn't even hear the teacher because of the noise.  People were afraid to go anywhere near the base or the beach so it was very difficult for many years.  It seems like just yesterday or only 5 or 6 years ago that the bombing stopped, even though it is really almost 10 years ago."

A celebration of the 10-year anniversary is indeed in order.  We must remember victories as they have remarkable power to motivate others around the world.

But the Navy's presence and the environmental disaster it created continue to afflict Vieques today.  The U.S. government has not cleaned up the poisons and bombs and continues to use practices that further endanger the people.  There is no bomb explosion chamber on the island.  The United States has disposed of what unexploded bombs it has disposed of by blowing them up, further spreading the contaminants that are killing the people of the island.

There is also no hospital on the island, few ferries to the island, few and overpriced airplanes, a handful of taxis and public vans, and very limited tourist facilities.  There is no college or university, and very few jobs of any kind.  Business licenses are issued in San Juan and require bribes.  Viequenses' families are ravaged by cancer, but also by illiteracy, unemployment, violent crime, and teen pregnancy.  All of the water -- like all electricity -- comes in a pipe from the main island.  Two of the residents said that the one resort on Vieques sometimes uses all the water.  Seven thousand Viequenses sued the U.S. government over their health problems, but the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear the case.

With very little land available for farming, Vieques, like all of Puerto Rico, imports almost all of its food.  Some people have become so desperate that they gather old munitions to sell for a little money to someone who will melt the metal for aluminum cans.  But heavy metals and depleted uranium endanger the metal gatherers and whoever later drinks from the cans.

Presidential candidate Obama wrote to the Governor of Puerto Rico in 2008: "We will closely monitor the health of the people of Vieques and promote appropriate remedies to health conditions caused by military activities conducted by the U.S. Navy on Vieques."  But that promise remains unfulfilled.

Robert Rabin Siegal of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques writes in a letter to President Barack Obama,

"Although I cannot claim the Navy and military toxics caused my cancer, you don't have to be a quantum physicist to understand how decades of exposure to heavy metals in the food chain, air, water and land, combined with the socio-economic pressures from the loss of two thirds of the island’s lands, would clearly contribute to high cancer rates.  The Navy dropped radioactive uranium projectiles here, we believe, in large quantities, in preparation for military actions in the Balkans and the Middle East.  The list of dangerous chemical components from munitions dropped on Vieques is extensive, as is the number of illnesses they cause.

"Mr. President: you received the Nobel Peace Prize; we demand peace for Vieques.  An island and people used to protect U.S. interests since WWII, forced to sacrifice its land, economic prosperity, tranquility and health, deserves at least the hope of peace for this and future generations."

". . . A handful of powerful US based corporations have pocketed most of the more than 200 million dollars spent on clean-up over the past decade.  We urge you to order technology transference to promote the creation of Puerto Rican and Viequense companies to carry out the clean-up of Vieques, thereby transforming that process into part of the economic reconstruction of the island as well as assuring community confidence in this crucial element in the healing of Vieques."

People anywhere in the world can take one minute to sign a petition to the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House in support of justice, at long last, for Vieques:

"I join the people of Vieques in demanding:

"Health Care -- Provide a modern hospital with cancer treatment facilities, early screening and timely treatment for all diseases.  Create a research facility to determine the relationship between military toxins and health.  Provide just compensation to people suffering poor health as a result of the Navy's activities.

"Cleanup -- Fund a complete, rapid cleanup of the land and surrounding waters, still littered by thousands of bombs, grenades, napalm, Agent Orange, depleted uranium and other explosives left by the Navy.  Cease the ongoing open detonation of unexploded ordnance.  Guarantee community participation in the cleanup; train Viequenses as managers, administrators, and scientists, and foster Viequense companies to do the work.

"Sustainable Development -- Support the Master Plan for Sustainable Development of Vieques which promotes agriculture, fishing, eco-tourism, small guest houses, housing, collective transportation, archaeology, and historic and environmental research, among other things.

"Demilitarization and Return of the Land -- Close the remaining military installations still occupying 200 acres of Vieques.  Return to the people of Vieques all land still under the control of the U.S. Navy and the federal government."

For extensive documentation, see the attachments below and others at this link.

Helen Jaccard is Chair of the Veterans For Peace -- Environmental Cost of War and Militarism Working Group.  She spent October, 2012 in Vieques doing research about the environmental and health effects of the military activities.  Her previous article about Sardinia, Italy can be found at http://www.warisacrime.org/sardinia .

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.

ANTI-REAPER DRONE RESISTERS, ARRESTED AT HANCOCK AIR BASE, ON TRIAL IN DEWITT, NY APRIL 18

At 5 pm, Thursday, April 18, 2013, six anti-drone activists from across New York State will stand trial in the DeWitt Town Court. Charged with Trespass for blocking the entrance of Hancock Air Base on October 5, 2012, the activists will go pro se,  i.e. defend themselves, in this bench trial presided over by Judge Robert Jokl.

   Along with four others (who are pleading guilty), the six sought on October 5 to deliver a citizens’ war crimes indictment [http://www.upstatedroneaction.org/flyers/WAR_CRIMES_INDICTMENT.pdf] to Hancock, the regional Reaper drone hub.

   From Hancock the Reaper, a weaponized hunter/killer robot, is piloted over Afghanistan, killing and terrorizing non-combatants. The defendants have argued in previous trials that such terrorism violates international law and that their actions are in accord with the Nuremburg principles requiring citizens to expose their nation’s war crimes.

   The October 5 action was one of about six such events conducted by the grassroots anti-drone group, Upstate Drone Action, over the last couple years. Besides this trial, two more such trials are in the offing at the DeWitt Town Court.

   At a March 20 pre-trial hearing Judge Jokl told the defendants that those found guilty on April 18 would begin jail sentences that evening. Having found Upstate Drone Action defendants guilty of Trespass previously, the Judge may well follow through on his threat.

   Those standing trial:

~ Jim Clune of Binghamton

~ Brian Hynes of the Bronx

~ Ed Kinane of Syracuse

~ Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse

~ Mark Scibilia-Carver of Trumansburg

~ Martha Hennessey of New York City

Destroying Public Education in America

 

Destroying Public Education in Chicago

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It's on the chopping block for elimination. It's happening nationwide. Chicago perhaps reflects the epicenter of what's wrong.

 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel spent years waging war on progressive politics. He's a former investment banker. He's a corporate predator turned politician. He's an unindicted war criminal. He belongs in prison, not City Hall.

While March Madness Captivates Las Vegas Air Force suffers unprecedented defeat at the hands of Unheralded Peace Activists

March 27, 2013
 
In an stunning upset, unheralded peace activists and members of the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) Sacred Peace Walk handed Commander Col. James Hecker and the USAF 432d and the 432d Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base an extraordinary defeat.

What if they gave a war and nobody paid?

 What if they gave a war and nobody<br />
                            paid? » Waging Nonviolence

By David Hartsough

"Considering the Tax<br />
                              Shelter." (Flickr/JD Hancock)

“Considering the Tax Shelter.” (Flickr/JD Hancock)

As April 15 approaches, make no mistake: The tax money that many of us will be sending to the U.S. government pays for drones that are killing innocent civilians, for “better” nuclear weapons that could put an end of human life on our planet, for building and operating more than 760 military bases in over 130 countries all over the world. We are asked by our government to give moral and financial support to cutting federal spending for our children’s schools, Head Start programs, job training, environmental protection and cleanup, programs for the elderly, and medical care for all so that this same government can spend 50 percent of all our tax dollars on wars and other military expenditures.

My wife Jan and I have been war tax resisters since the war in Vietnam. We cannot in good conscience pay for killing people in other parts of the world.

Not Too Big to Resist: Too Big to Jail

 

By Dan DeWalt


Corporate America just received the confirmation that they've been waiting for.

 

Nuremberg and the Courts

By Felton Davis

I recently attended a conference on drone warfare, and when one of the speakers there, former Colonel Ann Wright, was asked what we need to stop this runaway weapons program, she said unhesitatingly, "Irish juries!"  The blank looks of the audience suggested that unfortunately, her allusion did not ring a bell.

Attached to this message is a bulging collection of articles, cases, quotations and decision excerpts that have come my way over the years, arranged in chronological order.  Needless to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg -- the motions and appeals for just the first plowshares action at GE in September of 1980, went on for a decade and would fill a whole book.  Why do we have this continuingly growing body of cases and citations, a record of precedents good and bad?  We have this record -- not because prosecutors and judges were moved on their own to explore the implications of the Nuremberg trials -- but because for over thirty years people have stuck their necks out in the cause of nuclear disarmament: crossing the line, sneaking in, breaking in, blocking, trespassing, dropping banners, pouring blood, and using household hammers to make real the prophecy in the 2nd chapter of Isaiah.

20 Arrested Protesting Nukes

Silverdale, Washington, March 4, 2013 -- Twenty peace activists from around the United States were arrested as a result of their nonviolent protest against nuclear weapons at a U.S. Naval base.
 
Members of the Pacific Life Communitygathered at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor early Monday morning in resistance to the continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system and the associated threat of use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. government.
 
The Bangor Trident base is home port to eight of the nation’s 14 Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarines and also home to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific, where the Navy stores thermonuclear warheads for deployment on its submarines.  Bangor represents the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S.

Talkin’ ‘bout My Generation: In Defense of Baby Boomers

 

By Dave Lindorff


I’m fed up with the trashing of the Baby Boom generation.


Sure you can find plenty of scoundrels, freeloaders, charlatans and thugs who were born between 1946 and 1964, but you can find bad and lazy people in every generation. In fact, the so called “Greatest Generation” who preceded the Boomers abounds in them. That doesn’t prove anything.


Letter from a Drone Protester's Jail

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota!  As of this writing, I am two months into a six month sentence imposed due to my protest of war crimes committed by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Betsy accompanied me here to Yankton on November 29, and that evening the Emmaus House Catholic Worker community, Beth Preheim, Michael Sprong and Dagmar Hoxie, hosted an evening of music, good food and good company to see me off.  Activists from around the Midwest attended, including some sisters from the Benedictine monastery here.

In the morning after a great breakfast and Gospel prayer, Betsy and Dagmar and Michael, along with Renee Espeland and Elton Davis, Catholic Workers from Des Moines, and Jerry Ebner, a Catholic Worker from Omaha, walked a “last mile” with me to the gate of the prison where I expect to remain until the end of May.

FINLAND: Total objector Jesse Kamila sentenced to 180 days of 'home detention'


War Resisters' International, London, 15 February 2013

 

 

Jesse Kamila, a 24 year-old conscientious objector from Joensuu, Finland was sentenced to 180 days of home detention on Tuesday 12 February by Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus (Eastren Uusimaa district court). He had refused to do military service on 21 May 2012. He was charged with "refusal from civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen).

You can send a protest email here.

Background information

House arrest has been possible for total objectors in Finland since November 2011. The prisoner must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is allowed to work or study outside home during the sentence, but otherwise must stay at home. Since its introduction home detention has been used frequently for total objectors, however some have been imprisoned.

Jesse Kamila has refused to do civilian service because he sees it as a punishment for refusing violence. Civilian service lasts 347 days, whereas the shortest military service is only 165 days.

The UN Commission on Human Rights declared that any alternative service required of conscientious objectors in lieu of compulsory military service must be compatible with the reasons for the objection, of a civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature e.g. in its duration (Resolution 1998/77, OP4.). The length of the substitute service in Finland, however, is punitive.

Furthermore, in Foin v France (1999) the Human Rights Committee established its position that any difference in length must be “based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as the nature of the specific service concerned, or the need for a special training in order to accomplish that service” (Foin v France, Communication No. 666/1995) CCPR/C/D/666/1995, 9 November 1999, para. 10.3).

Solidarity

International pressure is important at this stage, since Jesse's sentence has not yet started. War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Tapani Katainen, or to Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/21245. A list of Finnish embassies can be found here.

War Resisters' International calls for Jesse Kamila's sentence to be quashed.

Hannah Brock
War Resisters' International

Nine Brave People Arrested Blocking Gate to Hancock Drone Murder Base in Upstate NY

(UPDATED WITH THEIR STATEMENT BELOW)

Nine opponents of killing human beings with missiles shot from drones were arrested on Wednesday nonviolently interfering with the drone kill program (taken to include the routine use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the targeted kill list) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY.

The nine arrested for disturbing the war were: Matt Ryan, Carmen Trotta, Nancy Gowan, Bill Pickard, Bill Streit, Jim Clune, Ellen Grady, Linda Letender, and Mary Anne Grady Flores.

Below are signs they displayed while blocking the gate.

Report and photos courtesy of Ellen Grady.

Via Malachy Kilbride, here's a list of 35 names of people from across the country who will be going to court at some point for actions against the drones.  Others, of course, already have been to court and in some cases are behind bars: Dan Burgevin, Jim Clune, Jack Gilroy, Martha Hennessy, Bryan Hynes, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Mary Snyder, Elliott Adams, Judy Bello, Mark Colville, Paul Frazier, Clare Grady, Mary Ann Grady-Flores, Andrea Levine, Bonny Mahoney, Mike Perry, James Ricks, Mark Scibilia-Carver, Paki Weiland, John Heid, David and Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Jane Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Toby Blome, Alli McCracken, Joan Nicholson, Eve Tetaz, and Jonathon Tucker.

 9  ARRESTED AT HANCOCK AIR BASE TODAY FOR OPPOSING REAPER DRONE WAR CRIMES

Around 3:30pm today, 9 individuals were arrested by DeWitt Police and Onondaga County Sheriffs for peaceably blocking the main entrance to

Hancock Air Base on East Molloy Rd in the town of DeWitt, a Syracuse, NY suburb.  Hancock is the regional hub for the hunter/killer Reaper drone deployed over Afghanistan, Pakistan and, increasingly, elsewhere.

This nonviolent civil resistance is the most recent in a series of actions at Hancock meant to expose and deter the Reaper war crimes originating there. Over the last two years dozens of Upstate Drone Action members have been arrested as we sought to communicate our concerns to the Base Command and personnel by delivering to them a Citizens’ War Crimes Indictment [see attached]. Ironically, at a base bristling with lethal weaponry, the bases Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Earl A. Evans, once again, requested and received from the Dewitt Town Court an order of protection against the nonviolent activists. The activists are bewildered by the request and the Courts acquiescence to it, not merely for its demeaning implications but for its as yet unknown legal ramifications. Currently, 20 non-violent citizens have received this order.  

According to Upstate Drone Action member,  Jim Clune, 

        “The Reaper strikes and the United States’ killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. These strikes are illegal and immoral. Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murder, violation of national sovereignty, and violation of due process are all illegal acts.”

Father Bill Pickard , member of Pax Christi, further noted:

        “We came to Hancock Air Base this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these weaponized drones.”

Those arrested today include:

   Bill Frankel-Streit, Trevilians, VA…. Nancy Gowen, Richmond, VA…. Ellen Grady, Ithaca, NY….

   Linda LeTendre, Saratoga Springs, NY….Rev. Bill Pickard, Scranton, PA…. Matt  Ryan, Ithaca...

   Mary Anne Grady, Ithaca, NY…. Carmen Trotta, New York, NY,  Jim Clune, Binghamton.###

 

Statement of the Defendants

We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper  Drone Maintainence and Training center, this Ash Wednesday -- to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God's forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children.
      The killer drone strikes and the US's killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in a number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.   These strikes are illegal and immoral.  Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murders, violations of national sovereignty, and violations of due process are ALL illegal acts.
      We come to Hancock Airfield this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these drones.
      We remind ourselves that our lives are brief and mysterious, and that "from dust we were created and to dust we shall return!"  The significance of our brief animation is the degree to which we love one another.
      Lent is a time to repent--literally, to change our minds.   It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' command to love our neighbors and our enemies.  It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' radical, non-violent message  love.
       Stop the Killing.  Ground the Drones. STOP the Wars.

 



WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT

To President Obama, to Secretary of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Hancock Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of De Witt, NY:

Each one of you, when you became a public servant, serving in a government position or when you joined the United States Armed Forces or police, you publicly promised to uphold the United States Constitution. We take this opportunity to call your attention to Article VI of the US Constitution, which states:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not with standing.

This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the Constitution and laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be supreme law of the land.

The Supremacy Clause provides part of the Supreme Law of the Land.

One Treaty duly ratified by the U.S. is the United Nations Charter. It was ratified by a vote of 89 to 2 in the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President in 1945. It remains in effect today. As such, it is part of supreme law of the land.

The Preamble of the U.N. Charter states that its purpose is to “save future generation from the scourge of war” and it further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”

This Treaty applies both collectively and individually to all three branches of government, on all levels, U.S. federal, state and local governments, starting with the executive branch: the U.S. President and the executive staff; the judicial branch: all judges and staff members of the judiciary; the legislative branch: all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and all departments of Law Enforcement and all civilian staff, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, which includes Article VI.

Under the U.N. Charter and long established international laws, anyone--civilian, military, government officials, or judge- who knowingly participates in or supports illegal use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.

Today you must recognize that when you promised to uphold the Constitution, you promised to obey Treaties and International Law – as part of the Supreme Law of the Land and furthermore, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the U.S., you are required to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.

Based on all the above,
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, BARAK OBAMA AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND TO COMMANDER COLONEL GREG SEMMEL,
EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS AT
HANCOCK AIR BASE, WITH
CRIMES AGAINST PEACE &
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH
VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS,
WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.

We charge that the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, under the command of the 174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft, called drones.

These drones are being used not only in combat situations for the purpose of assassinations but also for killings far removed from combat zones without military defense, to assassinate individuals and groups far removed from military action.

Extra judicial killings, such as those the U.S. carries out by drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force to commit murder in violation of U.S. and International Law.

It is a matter of public record that the US has used drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq for targeted killings to target specific individuals which has nearly always resulted in the deaths of many others.

There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used, no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassinations.

In support of this indictment we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates “a highly problematic blurring and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force.... The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum.... In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules.” See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28, May 2010.

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14 .24.Add6.pdf

The drone attacks either originating at Hancock or supported here are a deliberate illegal use of force against another nation, and as such are a felonious violation of Article VI of the US Constitution.

By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes.

 

We demand that you stop participating in any part of the operations of MQ-9 drones immediately, being accountable to the people of United States and Afghanistan.

As citizens of this nation, which maintains over 700 military bases around the globe, and the largest, most deadly military arsenal in the world, we believe these words of Martin Luther King still hold true, ”the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.

There is hope for a better world when WE, THE PEOPLE, hold our government accountable to the laws and treaties that govern the use of lethal force and war. To the extent that we ignore our laws and constitution and allow for the unchecked use of lethal force by our government, allowing the government to kill who ever it wants, where ever it wants, how ever it wants with no accountability, we make the world less safe for children everywhere.

We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, to do as required by the Nuremburg Principles I-VII, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them, and to resist them nonviolently.

Signed by:
THE UPSTATE COALITION TO
GROUND THE DRONES AND END THE WARS

 

35 Resisters Awaiting Trial for Opposing the Drone Murder Program

Via Malachy Kilbride, here's a list of 35 names of people from across the country who will be going to court at some point for actions against the drones.  Others, of course, already have been to court and in some cases are behind bars.

Dan Burgevin, Jim Clune, Jack Gilroy, Martha Hennessy, Bryan Hynes, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Mary Snyder, Elliott Adams, Judy Bello, Mark Colville, Paul Frazier, Clare Grady, Mary Ann Grady-Flores, Andrea Levine, Bonny Mahoney, Mike Perry, James Ricks, Mark Scibilia-Carver, Paki Weiland, John Heid, David and Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Jane Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Toby Blome, Alli McCracken, Joan Nicholson, Eve Tetaz, and Jonathon Tucker.

Why only these?

Jeju Protester Given 18 Month Jail Sentence

By

002 Prof. YangProf. Yang Yoon-Mo was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for protesting against the construction of the naval base in Gangjeong Village! The crime?  Obstruction of business and jeopardizing the construction of the so called ‘joint civilian-military use base’!

Not only do the ROK government and the ROK Navy continue the lies and deception, but the courts do their part to beat back those who protest the military expansion of the U.S. in Asia and the Pacific.

Professor Yang has risked everything to stop the construction. This is Prof. Yang’s fourth prison sentence. He previously went on a hunger strike for 70 days. Professor Yang left a 30 year career as a prominent South Korean film critic to protest against the base on a full-time basis. During my stay, I had the privilege of meeting him and filming his daily protests at the gates. Professor Yang will be given a prominent role in my documentary.

http://www.indiegogo.com/savejeju

The video clip of Prof. Yang resisting the police is by Korean filmmaker Cho, Sung-bong.

Here’s a brief video of Professor Yang.

Video: Rosalie Riegle on Her Book "Doing Time for Peace"

Random Row Books, Charlottesville VA, January 2013, More: http://davidswanson.org/node/3919.

The Sierra Club Begins to Get Serious

The Sierra Club has decided to promote nonviolent civil disobedience for the first time.  Before a climate habitable for humans collapsed was probably the right moment, I'd say.  Now might be a time to support and encourage the Sierra Club.  And now might be a time to nudge it further.  The top destroyer of the environment right now is the U.S. military, and the Sierra Club has never wanted to challenge it, but almost began to indirectly when it recently objected to the U.S./South Korean construction of a naval base on Jeju Island.  The Sierra Club is defending its decision to nonviolently resist evil on the grounds that doing so is "patriotic," as if patriotism is a force alligned with preservation of the earth.  More progress is needed.

Speaking Events

2015

April 25 Houston

May 8 New Jersey

May 30 NYC here and here

August 27, Chicago

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